Giving Thanks, Gluten Free

Those of you who know me and read this blog from time to time, know that I believe that each of us owns our health, and that it is our responsibility to do the things that lead us to feel our very best.

Recently, Matt decided to go gluten free. Matt was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2006 and since then has been searching for a lifestyle that relieves the symptoms of this diagnosis.  He has tried everything. And I am am being completely honest when I say everything: Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Carroll Testing, Whole Foods Diet, Juice Fasting, Cleansing etc. etc.  When we took a camping trip this summer and met several people who were gluten free (and gluten free camping, no less!), Matt decided that this was something he was ready to try.

And so we tried it.

I can’t say it’s been the easiest change, but it has been a wonderful one for myself and Matt.  It’s lead to me modifying how I prepare foods and to explore a whole new realm of baking. I’ve started mixing my own flour, baking my own bread and experimenting in ways that allow me to express a sort of creativity in the kitchen. Overall, it’s been an enriching experience.

This year, we’ve decided to host Thanksgiving.  Channeling my inner Martha Stewart, I decided that this Thanksgiving we would be gluten free. Even though Matt was the first one to say that everyone else shouldn’t miss out on the traditions due to his dietary restrictions, I found myself enthralled with my idea (since going gluten free the thought of expanding my cooking repertoire is very exciting!). I feel that as the host, it is my responsibility to create a meal that is suitable for all. This year that meal will be gluten free.

A traditional Thanksgiving feast was important to me.  For two reasons: 1. Because I know how hard Matthew has been working at being gluten free and I want to support that and 2. To explore a way to serve food to others that is both allergy friendly and delicious.

With a little help from Gluten Free Girl, Whole Foods and the Food Network, I’ve come up with a creative menu that encompasses all the favorites with a gluten free twist.  It’s a simple menu with shortcuts because I feel that some of the anxiety that comes with going gluten free is the fear that you will have to prepare everything you eat from scratch, and I want to dispel this myth. I hope this menu encourages you to plan your own Gluten Free Thanksgiving!

Tasty Turkey:

My turkey recipe is a simple one, found on the Food Network website:

The World’s Simplest Thanksgiving Turkey

Super Stuffing:

One recipe I found comes from Gluten Free Girl, find it here.  This recipe involves eggs, but I found an alternate through Whole Foods that does not use egg (which can be important if you are sensitive to eggs or Vegan), find it here.

Grateful for Gravy:

Seriously, who doesn’t love gravy? Especially when you can cover your turkey/mashed potatoes/stuffing/whole plate with it?  I’ve made my own gravy for Thanksgiving numerous times. Being vegetarian, it’s hard to find a good vegetarian gravy.  This year, I’m working with vegetarian and gluten free. Yet, it’s not as difficult as you might think.  Gluten Free Girl’s recipe can be found here.

Bountiful Bread:

If you’re used to having a bread basket on Thanksgiving, but fearful of the dry, fall apart texture of the gluten bread you’ve had in the past, I have a solution for you. My classmate introduced me to Namaste Gluten Free Bread Mix, which is pretty amazing.  She adds rosemary and garlic or rosemary and fresh Kalamata olives to the mix prior to baking then sprinkles the top with coarse sea salt. The result is delicious and unidentifiable as gluten free. I plan to serve this in a basket in place of rolls.

Scrumptious Sides:

Spaghetti Squash – This is my personal turkey for Thanksgiving. Since I am vegetarian I will be serving this side which can double as a main course. To prepare, purchase a whole spaghetti squash, puncture with a fork five times and microwave for 12 minutes.  While the squash is heating, sauté onions and garlic until fragrant and the onions are translucent.  Next add your favorite tomato based sauce to the onions and garlic. Consider adding olives, sun dried tomato, spinach and/or kale to your sauce.  Allow the sauce to simmer until the squash is done in the microwave. When the squash is fully steamed, it will be easily punctured with a fork. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds, use a fork to scrap the inside of the gourd out.  It should easily come off the rind and will appear stringy (kind of like spaghetti).  Add the spaghetti squash to the sauce, simmer for 10 minutes on low heat and serve.

Green Beans – A simple side to add a little bit of green to your Thanksgiving plate. Use fresh green beans with the ends cut. Blanch in hot water until warmed.  Season with sea salt and serve.

Mashed Potatoes – Organic russet potatoes are my preference for mashed potatoes. I also enjoy leaving the skin on the potato, both for color and texture. Boil 3 lbs of potatoes until cooked thoroughly.  Allow the potatoes to cool slightly. Add 1 cup of milk/rice milk/soy milk or butter milk while mashing the potatoes to achieve a smooth consistency. Next, season to taste with salt. Add 6 tablespoons of butter/earth balance. I like to garnish with chives and serve.

Delicious Dessert:

It’s extremely important to me that Thanksgiving comes with a traditional pumpkin pie. More importantly for the traditional pie to be gluten free this year. I was able to find several recipes online for gluten free pie crust, however, being the only cook for my small group of friends and family left me uncomfortable with the thought of possible ruining dessert (I’m still working on my gluten free baking confidence despite my success thus far). Seattle is home to the incredible Flying Apron Bakery which not only has several stand alone shops but also provides frozen gluten free pie crusts to a local co-op. I purchased one of those and will be filling it with a delicious pumpkin filling, the recipe can be found here.  I will be replacing the half and half in the recipe with coconut milk creamer. Primarily because coconut milk in general is thicker and the creamer will mimic half and half nicely.

Matt will be contributing a Sweet Potato Pie (his favorite, made from his mother’s recipe). Unfortunately I don’t have that recipe to share, yet. But I’ll be sure to add it on once I do.

I hope this post inspires you to create your own gluten free Thanksgiving. It can be a lot easier than you might think.  The internet provides a wealth of resource and knowledge around gluten free cooking. Another great resource comes from Whole Foods, which provides a list of gluten free items available in the location closest to you.  You can find that list by following this link: Whole Foods Gluten Free Living

Check back for a post-Thanksgiving update!

Update: Thanksgiving was a HUGE success! 


5 responses to “Giving Thanks, Gluten Free

  1. Yum! I'm doing a GF thanksgiving too! My family is handling the turkey and doing their own stuffing, but I'm sick of being left out, so this is my first year attempting GF stuffing. I'm attempting a Chanterelle & Pear stuffing (with pancetta). I have been making a gluten-free, dairy free, soy-free pumpkin pie (also with coconut milk) with caramelized pecans on the bottom for several years – it is delicious! My family has a great recipe for sweet potato filling baked into little hollowed-out orange cups, also wonderful. Hmmmm…I'm getting hungry! Happy Holidays!

  2. Thank you for your comment Dr. Krumbeck! Can you share your pumpkin pie recipe with me? I would love to try it. I'm dairy free and generally try to avoid soy so I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy my favorite holiday treats.

  3. Will Matt's sweet potato pie have loads of salt in it again? ;) hahaha just kidding Matt! Hope you have an awesome thanksgiving, I want to try the stuffing out this week!

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